Tucked into Building 6 in Nolan Park, a former Army officers’ quarters built in 1878, is Art Kibbutz. This is the only Jewish arts organization on the island, and it is presenting unique programming that is free and open to the public to view on Sundays.
What is the history of Art Kibbutz and how did it start?
Art Kibbutz is an international Jewish artist residency, community of 500+ artists and hub. Our mission is to foster global arts conversation and exchange among artists of exceptional talent in an inspiring and peaceful space to work, learn, and seriously explore the rich heritage of Jewish experience that informs their creative process.
There are more than 1,000 artists colonies in the world today, but ours is the only one with a Jewish focus. Only since New York City has become a safe haven for artists to explore and celebrate what it means to be a Jewishly oriented artist in the 21st century did the need arise for a Jewish artistic community.
Art Kibbutz NY was founded by Patricia Eszter Margit in 2010. The organization is supported by an outstanding Board of Directors and an Advisory Board that consists of leaders of the major Jewish art and communal organizations such as Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, Jewish Art Salon, Association for Jewish Theatre, JCRC-NY, UJA, Figment, Chashama, Hazon. Art Kibbutz is a 501(c)3 organization and can accept tax deductible donations. We had four artist residency programs and numerous projects these past few years. Our first pilot residency program at Eden Village in May 2013 with 30 international Jewish participants was a success. Not only the Jewish Week covered it on its front page, but our participants as well as the local community loved the experience and is asking for more… since then we had three more residencies and worked with leading NYC art organizations, such as the New Museum, Figment NYC, The Trust for Governors Island, as the only Jewish arts organization creating participatory, in-depth Jewish art opportunities for artists and creative volunteers alike. We asked the organization to tell us what is happening at Art Kibbutz.
What are your activities on Governors Island?
Art Kibbutz’s Summer Residency is taking place at Nolan Park 6B from May 26 to September 10. With studios for visual artists, writers, composers, rehearsal spaces for performing artists and a presentation space, the building is a welcome place for artists and the public alike.
Art Kibbutz’s Summer Residency offers a shared, multidisciplinary space where artists can experience a retreat-style. While on Governors Island, artists can create new works and develop their practice, make lead way on their Jewish journey, and benefit from the community of fellow artists-in-residence as well as New York City’s Jewish and artistic communities.
Art Kibbutz welcomes visitors on Sundays to enjoy open studios, lectures, artist talks, meet the artists and learn about the work taking place there.
Why do you like being on Governors Island? What is special?
We enjoy the retreat-feeling to it in the middle of New York City. We also enjoy connecting with other organizations on the island.
What can visitors expect to see at Art Kibbutz?
Art Kibbutz is the only Jewish program on Governors Island. We are creating cutting-edge, high quality artwork that is “surprisingly” Jewish with over 75 artists through the summer.
This summer our focus is Shmita (reinterpreting the Jewish Shabbatical tradition). We are partnering with Hazon, the largest Jewish environmental organization, on creating the highest level programming for our residents. While artists will be free to work on any topics, we will encourage residents to spend some time reinterpreting their own, society’s, and the environment’s relationship to money and the land in the context of Jewish art.
As an example: Filipe Cortez (Portugal) arrived to Art Kibbutz through our partnership with Residency Unlimited. Cortez’ multidisciplinary practice (site specific interventions involving performance, painting, drawing, sculpture and installation) examines memory, time and decay. The Portuguese artist investigates physical decay relating to the human body and architecture and the connections between both through in-situ performances in the series of works such as “Contamination” (contaminated wall representations), “Skin Series (where the residues of the architectural structure are ripped from their original structure with latex membranes) or “Fossils”. Through an intensive examination conducted with microscopic intention, Cortez succeeds in extracting an aesthetic of beauty from degradation, decomposition and physical disease through phenomena such as age marks, cracks, mold or humidity.
Anna Fine Foer (Maryland) studied fibers/crafts major at Philadelphia College of Art and became fascinated by the relationship between maps and the land they represent, embarking on a lifelong interest in maps and collage. After emigrating to Israel, Anna worked as a textile conservator in Haifa and Tel-Aviv. She was inspired by Governors Island’s topography that she included in her work on the island.
Alex Pergament (Russia – New Jersey) is an artist and photographer. His project, Helga and The Life-Sized Carl Sagan, is an immersive and interactive multimedia art installation – a larger-than-life book of books. Made of wood and plexiglass, the 8 foot tall book houses a collection of smaller books, inviting viewers to physically enter the larger book to consider the smaller ones, each of which is a collaboration with another Russian-speaking Jewish artist.
What are your operating hours for 2015?
Art Kibbutz Summer Residency is open for visitors on Sundays 11 AM to 5:30pm. Saturday closed in observance of Shabbat. Weekdays only open to resident artists. We will host our very own Shmita Festival on August 9th with diverse programming.
Kevin C. Fitzpatrick has written and edited seven books with ties to New York history, including "The Governors Island Explorer's Guide" and "World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War." Kevin is a licensed sightseeing guide and has been leading walking tours since 1999. He resides in Manhattan.